IRAQ: A string of bombings across central Iraq continues the unraveling situation in Anbar Province. A February bombing at Fallujah’s hospital forced workers there to evacuate to Ramadi, about 30 miles away.
RUSSIA AND UKRAINE:Russia’s parliament today is pressuring the Crimean parliament to join Russia, saying it will welcome a secessionist move by the Ukrainian republic. Moscow also upped pressure on Kiev, saying it may cut off natural gas to Ukraine.
In the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke for an hour by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to open talks with Ukraine’s new government, permit international monitors in Crimea, and return Russian forces to bases there.
Western leaders, including Obama, have condemned the Crimean Parliament’s call for a March 16 referendum to decide whether Crimea will remain part of Ukraine or join Russia. Obama said such a move would “violate international law … in 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
Conservative groups backing the World Congress of Families’ September summit in Moscow show no sign of cancelling the event, despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
NORTH KOREA: Escaped North Koreans are speaking out about atrocities they faced, and a UN “Commission of Inquiry” has released some of the most expansive, detailed testimony against the regime yet. Will it make a difference as the UN Human Rights Council’s annual deliberations get underway in Geneva?
ATLANTIC OCEAN: Lydia the great white shark is about to become the first shark tracked all the way across the Atlantic. Tagged in Florida one year ago, as of Thursday morning she was 1,000 miles from the coast of County Cork in Ireland.